Peace: a modern challenge!
From left to right: J-Y. Le Drian, S. Waslekar, H. Morin, M. El Baradei, F. Bedos et F-X. Priollaud
« Peace is a suspended dream. »
Kofi Annan, 7th Secretary-General of the United Nations, 1938 – 2018
On June 4th and 5th, ahead of the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings and the Battle of Normandy, the second edition of the « Normandy for Peace » World Forum took place in Caen. A total of 230 speakers – diplomats, intellectuals, researchers, activists from all over the world and NGO representatives – gathered there to exchange on the topic of « The Peacemakers ». A subject that is especially dear to the heart of Frédérique Bedos, member of the Forum’s Scientific and Strategic Committee.
A NEW GLOBAL CONTRACT,
THE « NORMANDY FOR PEACE » MANIFESTO
»Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. »
John Donne (1572-1631)
In continuance of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto of 1955 which, at the heart of the Cold War, challenged the world by asking the question: « Will we end the human race, or will humanity renounce war?”, the Forum’s Scientific Committee examined the relevance of drafting a new peace manifesto.
Never has the risk of extinction of all life on earth been so high. This finding is shared with various civil society figures committed to peace, such as the president of the Indian think tank, the Strategic Foresight Group (SFG), Sundeep Waslekar or the British philosopher, Anthony Grayling. With the help of the latter, the Committee was able to mobilize no less than four Nobel Peace Prizes: Jody Williams from the U.S.A. (1997 Nobel Peace Prize), who advocates for the prohibition of land-based anti-personnel mines, Mohamed El Baradei from Egypt (2005 Nobel Peace Prize), recognized for his efforts to promote nuclear non-proliferation around the world, Leymah Gbowee from Liberia (2011 Nobel Peace Prize), a Peace Activist in Africa, and Denis Mukwege (2018 Nobel Peace Prize 2018), Congolese surgeon and gynecologist who was awarded for his fight against sexual violence as a weapon of war.
All six put together their thoughts and their pens to draft the precious document on the day before the start of the Forum.
Emotions were running high when this call for a global awareness of the need for lasting peace on a global scale was presented to the public: the NORMANDY MANIFESTO FOR PEACE! Calling for the elimination of weapons of mass destruction and increased commitments to Sustainable Development, this manifesto lays the groundwork for a new global contract. It is up to us, citizens of the world, to sign it in order to encourage leaders to change course. Because, as Frédérique Bedos tirelessly says: « It is up to us to commit ourselves and act to build a better world. Because the world is Us! »
From left to right: D. Mukwege, J. Williams, S. Waslekar, L. Gbowee, A. Grayling, F. Bedos, F-X. Priollaud
We invite you to discover and sign this manifesto. It’s up to you!
MULTILATERALISM AS A BANNER
This year, Frédérique Bedos had the honor of co-hosting, together with Francois-Xavier Priollaud, Vice-President of the Normandy Region, the three plenary sessions of the Forum, namely:
- « Humanizing peace: which actors?”
- « The Paths of Peace: Mistakes and Success »
- « Building a sustainable peace »
For two days, leading international experts were able to exchange in front of a large audience (6000 people came to the Abbey aux Dames location during the 2 days of the Forum). The discussions were passionate and candid, enabling us to address the questions that really matter: « Where is the essence of humanity when 8 to 9 people own half of the world’s wealth?” « How effective is the United Nations today?” “How can women and young people, more than half the population, still be kept away from the negotiating tables”… And we can see how huge the gap is between « winning the war » and « building peace »! Over and above the triumph of strength, the key factors for pacifying the planet still are development, mediation and prevention. But without a drastic reduction in inequality, the dialogue will remain a dead letter. It is therefore high time for human communities to move from confrontation to cooperation.
THE ROLE OF THE MEDIA
IN THE NEW CONFIGURATION OF CONFLICT
In the 21st century, in the age of the Internet and global immediacy, false information can destabilize international relations, sometimes intentionally. Because there is an urgent need to reflect on the role of the media, the Forum specifically addressed the problem of « fake news » through a dialogue between Marie-Christine Zaragoza, CEO of the audiovisual Group France Media Monde and Frédérique Bedos on the topic of: « News and destabilization, what can the media do ».
In response to questions from our founder, Mrs. Zaragoza especially highlighted the key aspect, namely the independence of the media, and the importance of educating young people about images. These are considerations that are at the heart of the analysis within our independent information NGO, since it is only funded by donations and is particularly involved with young people, especially through its ‘Imagine Schools’ programmed. But above all, we are fully aware of the challenge of providing fair and honest information, the pillar of the democratic model, because a well-informed citizen is an enlightened citizen.
IMAGINE PRODUCTIONS GET OVERWHELMING SUPPORT
During the Forum, three films signed « Les Productions Imagine » were presented exclusively to the public. This series, entitled « A Testimony for Peace », highlights the importance of memory, resilience and ultimately reconciliation, and they were warmly applauded.
We invite you to discover these moving stories:
A TURNING POINT IN HISTORY
A University Chair for Peace
While there are prestigious « War Schools » in many countries, there really is no such thing as « Peace Schools ». Consequently, the Forum ended with the announcement that a « Normandy for Peace in the World » university chair would be established in collaboration with the French national Research Administration – CNRS, and the University of Caen, in order to contribute to academic research and training for top-level researchers in the field of peace studies.
Scheduled for 2019/2020, the chair will welcome internationally recognized academics in law, political and social science, history and economics. In a privileged setting, they will be able to carry out their work in the fields of peace, security and conflict resolution, while at the same time participating in training PhD students.
The current holder of the « Normandy for Peace in the World » Chair is from the Philippines. Antonio A. Oposa Jr., is the first lawyer in the world to have won a lawsuit on behalf of future generations, namely the class action before the Philippine Supreme Court of 43 children against deforestation. Master Oposa sent a moving message to the public in two stages: 1/ « We can enjoy peace on earth because we will be at peace with the earth » and 2/ « We must no longer emphasize the bad news, but rather the good news. »
A plan which Project Imagine fully supports since its inception in 2010!